Raising a visually impaired (possibly blind) chick [Pic Heavy]

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by MESOFRUFFEH, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    Well last week I got a new batch of chicks at TSC. I had a little runt in the batch and after watching her like a hawk the first day, I realized she couldn't see, I assumed she was totally blind. Her little eyes were sunk in, and she just stood there looking around in a manner in which I've never seen before in a chick, blanky staring at nothing. She would bump into things, but for the most part she just slept or cried.

    I immediately hopped on BYC to see if there was any information on caring for a blind chick, and to see if there were any stories of any that made it to adulthood, after all I did want her to have a good life, not just be miserable. What I found was not a lot. I made a post in emergencies/illness section, but hardly anyone read it and no one responded, so back to the internet I went. Most of the people I found had chickens who went blind later in life, or who still had sight in one eye. So I am making this post mostly to document her progress, and to help anyone else who might have to deal with this in the future. I think most people would have culled her, and some may not have noticed anything was wrong until it was too late. But fortunately I noticed something was wrong, and me being me, I couldn't let her just waste away and starve to death, and if what she was dealing with was not life threatening, and she would still have a shot at a happy life, then that is all the excuse I needed to whisk her away to my little NICU box, or as I like to call it, the CHICU, and nurse her back to health.

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    At first she looked so pitiful, poor baby. Eyes sunk in, just very depressed looking. I had all the equipment to tube feed her on hand, but alas, none of the catheter tubes I had were small enough. So I had to make due with a syringe. Strangely enough, the cheap, cheesy, flimsy, what-I-assumed-to-be-worthless-and-almost-threw-away syringe that came with the poly-vi-sol I'd bought for some of my other chickens made a great syringe to feed her with.

    She did not peck or scratch, so feeding her was all on me. I had to pry her little mouth open and squirt some food in a little at a time. I made up small batches of Kaytee Exact baby bird handfeeding formula, and not knowing how much to feed or or how often, and not being able to get ANY answers to that question online, I used the general baby rule of thumb: feed every two hours. As far as how much, I would just feel her crop to check on the progress, when it started to get full, I would stop. It was hard to tell how much she was getting, even using the syringe because most of it wound up all over both of us. I made the formula watery, but not watery enough to aspirate her, which was a huge concern of mine. For the first couple of days I used egg yolk to help thicken the formula. The nutrients in that yolk could not have hurt her either.

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    And so I fed her, roughly every two hours throughout the day. If her little crop still felt full, I would hold off until it was empty. At first she gave me no indication of being hungry. When she was first in with the rest of the chicks she just peeped constantly, but now alone in her own little box with her mama heating pad she was comfy and cozy and quiet as a little church mouse.

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    Thankfully, I have a job where I sit in an office by myself most of the day, so I brought her to work with me so that I could keep her fed during the day.

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    We usually take a few breaks every day to come outside and soak up some rays and enjoy the beautiful weather.

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    It was on one of these little excursions outside that I realized she CAN see... she just can't see WELL. I had put her on the ground and there was a shadow. She must have noticed this contrast in light and dark, because she tried to jump over it! I just can't tell you how excited I was to see her jump, this was good, this was progress! This meant we had eyes that WORKED even if they did not work very well! I had started to give up on her a little before this, questioning my decision to try to save her. What kind of life would she have? Would she ever learn to eat by herself? Should I have just put her out of her misery? Was I being selfish? Should I just end it all now?

    And then, the most amazing thing happened in the days after I noticed she could at least make out the contrast in light and dark. She started scratching and pecking. I was thrilled! This was awesome, she was starting to act like a chicken!

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    (You will have to excuse her poopy rear, I keep an eye on it, her pooper works, it's just stuck in her booty fluff)

    I could not believe she was finally pecking! It was like she could see the contrast of the black letters on white paper, and it finally clicked that you peck at little things you can see lol. All the while she started getting more and more vocal around eating time. If she was hungry, she was going to be standing on top of her mama heating pad chirping at the top of her lungs. She started getting more enthusiastic at dinner time. She started pecking at my fingers, the syringe, anything in that general area. Plus she was finally making the little happy chirps chicks make when they eat. So instead of having to pry her mouth open and more or less force feed her, she was eating off the tip of the syringe. As long as I held it close enough to her beak so she could feel where it was at, she was golden.

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    So we graduated from the syringe to eating out of a little bowl. Notice how her eyes are no longer sunk in anymore. And she is FAR from depressed now!

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    A very tedious task! And messy! But hey, she was doing it on her own! Sometimes she would peck right at her feet, probably because they were covered in formula and she does not like dirty feet, then she would take about 10 steps backwards.

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    By the time we got done with a meal, everything was covered in food lol.

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    Then I found that if I mixed her formula with a tiny bit of chick starter, it was much less sticky and did not stick to her feet or her face nearly as bad. I also discovered that if I put her in a little bowl to eat, she would just twirl around in circles eating instead of backing up and making a mess everywhere, and she was much more efficient in her eating. This really seemed to work like a charm.



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    After a meal, it's back to mama heating pad for a good warm snuggle and nap.

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    This is my mobile CHICU. I took a copy paper box and lined the bottom with paper towels, then I took a small piece of cardboard and folded it in half like a tent. I made holes in the tented cardboard and stuck the corners of an old kitchen rag into four of them and made what was supposed to just be a something warm and soft to snuggle into, but she prefers to use it as a hammock.

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    Just look at that sweet little face!

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    Then I put my heating pad on top of the cardboard, followed by a towel. to keep the heat in.

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    And then some paper towels for poo protection.

    I have another mama heating pad set up at home for my two smallest bantam chicks, they were being picked on and knocked down by the rest of the chicks. So in the evening when we get home from work she gets to go in with the other babies and mingle. I am hoping she enjoys their company and will eventually learn some things from them. Sometimes she seems a little miffed because they bump into her and she just wants to sleep, but for the most part I think she enjoys being with them.

    I can't tell you how thankful I am for this website and all the things I have learned on here. Thanks to all of that and a little intuition, she has made it this far and is as happy as can be. I am very pleased with her progress and hopefully one day she will be the roommate to my crippled hen who got stepped on by a cow. I am going to keep updating this post as she grows just in case anyone else is ever in the same situation as I am and has questions but can't find any answers. And also for the encouragement factor. It's always so encouraging to read a post documenting some illness or condition in a chick that ends with a happy adult. I hope and pray we make it that far, but if not I will know at least she had a shot at life and that I made it as happy for her as I could.
     
    2 people like this.
  2. JetCat

    JetCat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looks like you've done an excellent job tending to this chick. i've raised a few blind ducks, a chicken and most recently a quail that was born with no eyes (her name is No Eyes). it's very rewarding when your special needs birds thrive!!!

    at hatch:
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    she was 9 weeks old to the day when she decided to become vocal (she'd never made a single noise till then) and laid her first egg the same day!!
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  3. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    I thoroughly agree about it being rewarding when your special needs - or even just very sick - babies make it! It is such a good feeling! No Eyes is adorable, I love her little spot on her head. I have never seen a chick born with no eyes! Did you have to hand feed her for a while too? I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants here with all that I am doing. I keep wondering if I am feeding her enough, of she is hydrated enough, so many questions, so few answers. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little crazy for caring so much about a baby chick because it's "just a chicken" but I sure do love her, and I just want her to have as good of a life as possible. And if that makes me crazy, well then i will wear that label with pride haha!
     
  4. JetCat

    JetCat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    she eats and drinks without any help and doesn't have any issues with it. she was a little behind her seeing siblings but she's now the same weight and she lays an egg every day. i keep her by herself, to me that's always provided the best results as there isn't the added confusion of another body to bump into, but others have posted they have paired blind birds up with a 'seeing eye partner' and had great results with the sighted one leading the blind.
     
  5. SuperChickRuth

    SuperChickRuth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2016
    We've got a little chick that has a weird eye problem, and acts like she's blind. I keep praying that she's not completely blind, but here's a pic of her eyes. Her name is Ethel, and is the sweetest thing ever. I've been giving her Nutri-Drench, and SaveAChick water, and she's been peaking up some food, but not much. How can I help her? [​IMG]
     
  6. SuperChickRuth

    SuperChickRuth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2016
    Here's another picture of her-[​IMG]
     
  7. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    It's really encouraging to know she has done so well. I totally agree about separating them. I have been trying to keep mine in with a couple of other chicks in the evenings, but I think they do more to confuse her. They bump into her, they shove her out of the way when she is eating, and she has not learned to drink from the poultry nipple waterer they have, so I have been keeping her an extra little bowl of water in the box, a tiny one with some folded paper towel in it to keep her from getting all wet. But they just get her water filthy in no time flat. I've found that by keeping her in her own separate box with food and water in the same place that she is finally learning to eat and drink on her own. I no longer have to put her in the bowl for her to eat, she walks up to it her self. Granted she can see, I still don't think she can see well. If she were a human she may be considered legally blind. She has almost doubled her weight in the last 4 days since she started eating on her own. She is no longer skin and bones, she feels like a normal chick now when you hold her, I could not be more pleased!
    Oh No! Poor baby, it looks like maybe they are infected?? You may search the forums for some threads on eye infection and see how they treated it, as far as eating, I would separate her and provide her with her own small little area with food and water and heat for the time being until you get her eating good. Maybe mix her some food with the electrolyte water and see if you can get her to eat some of it. It may take a few days but if you can get something in her and keep her alive long enough she may eat very well by herself. If she is pecking at the ground trying to eat, you might take a small dish or container, mix up some wet food and spread it over the bottom, set her right in the middle and tap your finger on the bottom encouraging her to peck. If she is eating but not drinking, make your mix a little more watery. That is what I have been doing, then I still offer her a drink afterwards. I have a dish that I put a shallow bit of water in then plop her right in the middle of it, she has started drinking on her own but every once in a while I have to dip her beak in it. They learn pretty fast, after a few days of the same routine she will have it down.

    If she is not pecking and eating very much you may try to tube or syringe feed her. Chick starter is pretty small, but even when you mix it with water it's still got too many pieces that make it too big to suck up a syringe, then you get chunks that get stuck in the hole and when they get un-stuck you wind up shooting it all over their face and it's just a disaster. I have not tried this, but I have heard some people have used a blender or food processor to try and grind it much finer so they can syringe feed or tube feed their chickens. A good thing to have on hand is Kaytee Exact baby bird hand feeding formula, you can get it at just about any pet store. It's about $15 for the container and I keep mine in the freezer when I'm not using it. This is the 3rd bird I've had to feed it to in the last year and I've only used about 1/4 of it. It will get you out of a pinch when you have someone too ill to eat for a few days. It's very easy to use in syringes and tubes. I ordered some small section catheters last week that I was going to use to tube feed my little baby but then she started eating on her own.

    I am sorry I am not much more help than that, and I am swamped at work today, but I will look later and see if I can find anything about eye infections! I really hope she gets better and I hope you can pull her through! [​IMG]


    *Edited for clarity*
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  8. GreenWillow

    GreenWillow Out Of The Brooder

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    I am so relieved I found this post! I got my first batch of chicks today and realized very quickly one of the chicks was blind. I am going to use all of your pointers and hope for the best!
     
  9. MESOFRUFFEH

    MESOFRUFFEH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2015
    East Texas
    I really hope some of what worked for me also works for you!! I am pleased to announce that we have finally named the blind baby, Baby Tillie, because I finally decided she is going to pull through this. She is now eating and drinking on her own, I have added my smallest bantam chick in with her just to keep her company so she is not all alone, and to hopefully help her find her food and water. So far so good. She is really laid back and doesn't push and shove like the others, so she was a good match for Baby Tillie. They are still in a little handicapped friendly box where everything is easy to find. She is two weeks old now, so I think if you can keep yours alive long enough for her to learn to find food and water on her own you should be good. They do learn pretty fast, but it can feel like an eternity sometimes. Feel free to PM me if you ever need to! Best of luck to you and your baby! [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  10. SuperChickRuth

    SuperChickRuth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 11, 2016
    Thanks, MESOFRUFFEH!
    Yes, it was an eye infection, or at lest that's what the vet thinks. We ended up taking her to the vet, and he said that she probably ISN'T blind, and just has an infection. And after a day of eye drops, she seems to be seeing well, and is eating out of the feeder, and drinking! [​IMG] We are continuing the eye drops for her, and I'm cleaning her eyes with warm water and saline. She seems to be well on the road to recovery! SOOOOO relived! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016

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